Dr. Lillian Ney, a member of the Chautauqua County Board of Health, recently spoke with the League of Women Voters of Chautauqua County via Zoom videoconferencing about changes to the health care system following the Covid-19 pandemic and its impact on health. Care workers.
I don’t think we as a people give enough credit and thanks to healthcare workers. Ney said.
Ney is retired vice president of medical affairs and medical director at WCA Hospital. She received her doctorate in medicine from the University at Buffalo. She completed an internship, medical residency and cardiology fellowship at Buffalo General Hospital.
As a member of the Board of Health, Ney had an up-close view of how the medical profession was affected by the pandemic.
“Many of the rules were confusing. … It was not an easy time. Ney said, noting that laws and regulations that have been constantly evolving throughout the pandemic have been inconsistent.
“Public health and politics don’t mix.” Ney said. “…It is very unfortunate for people in the health care profession.
Ney described how aid for booster shots was rejected. “This was a huge blow to the health department.” She said.
These days, it’s not just COVID that healthcare professionals are responsible for addressing. Ney highlights RSV and influenza, but points out, “Things don’t look so bad now.” In terms of hospitals in the county.
What Nee described as a major concern are the long-term effects of COVID. “What worries me the most is… a prolonged covid.” Ney said. “Long Covid is a real problem. … All systems in the body can be affected.
An example of technology Ney highlighted during the outbreak was how wastewater treatment facilities in Dunkirk and Jamestown tested their water for Covid, indicating the spread of the disease in the area. However, many people are not well-informed about the procedures used, as many worry that the disease could come back to them with a diagnosis – which Ney says is not true. That uncertainty led to unnecessary apprehensions with the exam process.
“Lack of knowledge must be addressed by the health department.” Ney said.
Nee has expressed concern about the shortage of doctors, nurses and other health care professionals locally and nationally. Noting that recruiting is a struggle, she cited how many workers in New York City have gone on strike because of the pandemic. Ney believes it’s not strictly a financial decision, but also about overkill.
But since the outbreak, the need for health care workers has increased not only for the disease, but also for the mental health issues the epidemic has caused or exacerbated.
“People have changed after covid”. Ney said. Even if you don’t lose your job, you don’t have someone die in your family… people are really humiliated.
Ney noted that test scores and depression, among many other factors, showed how the pandemic negatively affected people in ways other than those directly affected by the virus. “It takes a long time to overcome things like this.” Ney said.
Locally, the county’s Departments of Public Health and Social Services are divided into two separate divisions. Christine Schuyler previously led both departments for the past 11 years, but will not lead either of the new departments. Ni called him out “Big Loss”
In December, Chauqua County Executive PJ Wendell tapped Dr. Michael Falk to lead the county’s Department of Public Health and Carmelo Hernandez to become director of the Department of Mental Hygiene and Social Services.
“Of course there will be change.” Ney said.